Route 60: Tonto National Forest

Route 60 should not be confused with Route 66 the legendary highway built in the 1920’s that connected Chicago, Illinois with Santa Monica, California. I’ve watched the 4 part video series of  Billy Connelly’s journey along Route 66 and would love to make that a photographic journey but that will have to wait for another day. It is a reference to a collection of images I made at  some of my favourite photo shooting locations in Arizona.  

For those who live in metropolitan Phoenix, Arizona highway  60 is a 12 lane super freeway  running east towards Apache Junction. From there it narrows in a few short kilometers to become a winding 2 lane highway running through the Tonto National Forest, past the Boyce Thompson Arboretum and out to the historic mining towns of Superior, Miami and Globe. This is my Route 60 and the basis of my next 3 or 4 blog articles

In our first year of retirement Ellen and I loaded up our truck and trailer and headed south. It was early January and we were getting away from winter for a 5 week stay in Blythe, California and  Casa Grande,  a small Arizona town between Phoenix and Tucson. This trip was the beginning of a regular winter trip to  the Valley of the Sun.

Back then, golf was our priority. While in Casa Grande we arranged with friends to attend a LPGA golf event, the Safeway International at the Superstition Mountain Golf and Country Club. The golf was spectacular. So too was the back drop to the course, Superstition Mountain.

Located just east of Apache Junction, Arizona,  Superstition Mountain is a popular hiking area within the Tonto National Forest. Just a half hour drive from our RV park in Mesa it became my go to place to hike and photograph in the desert wilderness. 

The Tonto National Forest is about 12,000 square kilometers in area. It’s elevation ranges from just over 400 meters in its Sonoran Desert regions to 2200 meters in the Ponderosa Pine forests in it’s northern reaches. I frequented the southern regions of the forest around Superstition Mountain, out highway 87 to Canyon Lake and on one remarkable trip,  deep into the Sonoran Desert on the mountain’s east side.

The images I present here are but a small sample of those that I made on my many trips to the Forest. Many different cacti flourish in the desert. In the spring when they flower, the splash of colour displayed was stunning.

Light in the desert from mid afternoon until just after the sun set was often spectacular.  I loved to get out to the desert when storm clouds and rain were forecast. These conditions were opportune for making dramatic desert images.

One day when all the current issues of the day settle  perhaps we will travel there again and stay there for a few winter months.  I’d love to get out on the desert again and perhaps photograph the desert after a snow storm.

This entry was posted in My Work.


  1. Jane August 16, 2020 at 9:29 am #

    It is amazing to see the desert when it is in bloom. I love the flowers! Jane

    • Stu Dale August 19, 2020 at 3:43 pm #

      Thanks Jane! The desert is lovely in flower season.

  2. Alan Flynn August 17, 2020 at 9:55 pm #

    A very enjoyable read Stu and an amazing set of photographs. Many years ago we took a coach tour in the States passing through Arizona and enjoyed seeing the incredible scenery.
    The golf tournament would have been incredible to witness.


    • Stu Dale August 19, 2020 at 3:46 pm #

      Thanks for commenting Alan. The desert south west is a beautiful place especially in the spring. The golf was incredible.

  3. Judy Grimes August 30, 2020 at 9:44 am #

    You certainly do get the best of the views and the plant life. Always enjoy seeing your pictures and posts.

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